Cold air clung to the wooden crosses, markers to the bones resting under them. Deathly still. The parched, tangled grass clawed at the sky in reverent prayer, begging for a reprieve as a tidal wave of ominous grey-black clouds crept up on the blue sky, consuming it, like a heavy curtain drawing the day to a close.
This was a sacred place.
A place where the cawing crows had long abandoned their nests in the nearby splintered Deadwood trees in respect for those at rest. The moment of dead calm froze all motion, halting the swaying pendulum of the ebony rosary hanging from the decaying cross that marked her resting place. The Delft Blue baby doll ensconced in a grotto just above her shakily etched epitaph, stared across the eternal plain, so lifelessly insignificant, yet encompassing a greater loss than the solemn words beneath it could ever adequately describe.
In the dead quiet, the memory of the sweet scent of spring meadow fleetingly haunted the air, before the bank of clouds shrouded every corner of the God’s natural dome. The breath whipped up into a frenzied wind. Gusto in its voice, like a circus ringmaster announcing his presence.
The cross creaked into life and soon the rosary began in its familiar pattern as if restarted by an invisible hand. In the distance, the throaty cough of thunder brought hope to the dying scrub and with it, the promise of life once again.
She approached with solemnity. Her shadow draped across the weed covered mound; she gripped the beads so tightly that the mini crucifix branded her palm. Like each time before the first rain, as if in an act of self-imposed penance, she laid the warm rosary and the cold porcelain with painstaking care, into the baize lined wooden casket and placed it into her wiry basket.
As the first big drop of rain hit her cheek, she looked up to heaven as if seeking forgiveness. Anthea was crying again.